Apartments.com’s tenant screening service provides a modern user experience that integrates directly into their other services. While their reporting is fairly bare-boned, they still provide the essentials with an excellent price and overall service.
Sample Reports: Tenant Screening ($29)
What is Apartments.com?
Apartments.com is primarily known as a the web’s largest site for connecting renters with landlords. This review will mostly cover their tenant screening service, but it’s impossible to fully remove the benefits their other services provide as a larger whole.
Apartments.com Features and Facts
|Time to Get Results
|Immediately after authorization is given
|Type of Application
|Through invitation or online link
|Nationwide Criminal & Eviction Check
|Felonies & Misdemeanors
|SSN Fraud Check
|Sex Offender Check
Apartments.com Pros & Cons
- Excellent Pricing – Their tenant screening only costs $29.
- Stellar User Interface – The entire process feels modern and intuitive.
- Perfect Partner With Their Other Services – As perhaps the largest advertiser of apartments online, Apartments.com has many other resources at a landlord’s disposal. This is most relevant for tenant screening as you can advertise your property, get applicants, and have them screened with the same dashboard.
- Many Other Services – While this can be a positive, it also makes it hard to navigate the back end when looking for tenant screening.
- Bare Bones Reports – Tenant screening isn’t their main focus, and it shows with their basic reports.
- Tenant-Pay Only With Single Package – They offer only a single package, and landlords don’t have the option to pay.
Tenant Screening Pricing
Apartments.com only offers a single service for tenant screening and it costs $29. However, applicants can share their application and screening reports for 30 days with up to 10 participating landlords.
Their service provides:
- Credit Report (including TransUnion’s ResidentScore)
- Fraud Alerts
- Nationwide Criminal Report
- Nationwide Eviction Report
- SSN Verification
- Address History
- Employment History
Here’s how Apartments.com’s process works for creating the application, the applicant’s process, the landlord’s process, and what the reports look like.
1. Create Application
First, you’ll create an account with them:
Now, you can navigate to “Application” and click to screen applicants:
Then, you’ll be able to add your rental unit’s details:
Next, you can add your property to their site and have interested people click on your listing to fill an application. Or, click “Manage Your Property” and you can email an invite to fill out an application:
Then, you’re given the option to either use an application link or to have an email invite sent:
2. Tenant Application Process
The applicant will then see this email in order to start the process:
First, the applicant will need to create an account. Here you’ll notice an incredible feature of working with Apartments.com—applicants can use the same application for up to 10 different properties for 30 days! For landlords, this may not mean a great deal, but it can mean more applicants because they can apply without paying more.
While landlords can choose to also have a separate application fee, this feature provides the option to make applying significantly cheaper for your tenants.
Now, the application process begins:
Applicants are then told what is going to be expected of them from the application, which is always best practice:
Then, applicants start with putting in their general information:
Next, we’ll start to get into some less-common rental application questions, but ones we’re highly in favor of. Landlords should want to gather this information, but many other tenant screening services require a separate follow-up to gather it.
Now, we get a reminder to confirm that the applicant hasn’t forgotten any of the residents:
Then, the application collects residence history, including past rentals and contact info for previous landlords:
Now, the application moves to Employment History. We can’t emphasize enough how useful it is to have places to enter previous landlord and employer contact information. This streamlines the whole process for landlords.
While Apartments.com doesn’t have a separate Income Verification report, they do have a place to insert income as well as a place to upload proof of income. Income Verification reports cost extra with most tenant screening services and are mostly unnecessary, so we like what Apartments.com has done here.
Then, applicants will add emergency contacts:
Next, applicants can add their personal references, once again making it so landlords don’t have to reach out later to gather this information.
Then, a proof of identification will be collected:
Applicants are then asked to put in their vehicle information, which is another useful section that most other services omit:
Applicants will then verify their information with a series of personal questions:
Then, they will authorize the landlord to gather the necessary information:
Then they will check out! that total amount of $31.43 is absolutely stellar. Apartments.com wants you to use their other services (especially listing rentals) so it seems they offer this service cheaper to entice new business. It’s working.
The application is complete!
3. Landlords Reports View
The landlord will then be notified of a new application via email:
You’ll then be taken to a nice dashboard view. The income shows “0x rent” because we neglected to include that information when filling out the application.
We love the ease with which you can click around the dashboard to see the different reports. It’s almost unmatched by other tenant screening services:
4. Credit Report
The credit report starts with a basic summary of the applicant’s information, including an SSN verification:
Next up is the employment history, as well as a TransUnion ResidentScore. Now, we’ll note here that you don’t get a true credit score, which can be a negative in some landlord’s eyes. However, this metric has been developed by TransUnion after examining millions of applications and tenant screening reports. This number is essentially a credit report tailored specifically to renter qualification factors, and therefore a better metric than credit score alone.
Now we’ll see the summary of tradelines (who the applicant owes money to). The most useful thing here is to look at the bottom line that says “Total” and look up the “Payment” number. With that, we can see the debt payments the applicant makes each money and calculate an accurate debt-to-income ratio (which is a much better metric than a simple rent-to-income number.
You can click to see individual tradelines, such as this one for a mortgage. The important thing here is to see that no payments have been made late.
Now, the landlord can see if there have been any fraud alerts or anything in collections:
This applicant has no issues found on any public records relating to financial issues, and then landlords will see the inquiries made (essentially times the applicant has applied for a loan of some type).
5. Criminal & Eviction Report
Here’s the simple criminal report:
Next is the eviction report:
These reports are simple by nature as for many applicants there will be nothing to show here at all.
Overall, their reports are simple, yet effective. Other services tack on information that is unnecessary for 99.9% of applicants, but charge extra for it. Using Apartments.com reporting will give you a clear picture without muddying the waters.
Should You Use Apartments.com?
Backed by their massive rental listing service, Apartments.com has all the resources to make their tenant screening experience a great one. Even the (supposed) drawbacks are by design and with a purpose. They don’t allow for landlords to pay and they only offer a single tenant screening package, however this is with the intention of simplifying their service.
However, they do provide the basic reports that landlords are looking for, and the process is well-designed and beautiful. There is plenty to like about Apartments.com and they’ve predictably put together a solid tenant screening service that rates at or near the very best.
Apartments.com Frequently Asked Questions
These are the most common questions asked about Apartments.com:
1. Is Apartments.com a Legitimate Site?
Apartments.com is a legitimate website. Their core service of listing rentals is one of the largest such businesses in the world.
2. Does Apartments.com Run a Hard Credit Inquiry?
Credit checks from Apartments.com are done via soft inquiry and will not affect the applicant’s credit score.
3. Are Apartments.com’s Tenant Screening Reports Accurate?
Powered by TransUnion, Apartments.com reports are thorough and accurate.